Despite the die-hard reputation of bikers as rough and tough lawbreakers, the vast majority of riders are hyper-conscious of motorcycle safety. They have to be, as their lives are on the line. With a much smaller profile, and without the structural support of a car or truck, motorcyclists are targets on the roadways.
Accidents happen, and when it comes to motorcycles, accidents happen more often than they should. Unfortunately, that is just the beginning of the struggle. Physical pain, medical bills, lost hours at work, wrangling with insurance companies … these factors add exponentially to the stress and anxiety in the aftermath of an accident. Proving fault is the key to receiving the compensation you are owed.
A Lack of Motorcycle Safety in the Sunshine State?
Florida leads the nation in motorcycle-related fatalities. Motorcyclists make up about 7 percent of all licensed motorists in the state – but motorcyclists account for nearly 20 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.
Here’s another set of sobering statistics: Florida’s population is about 6.4 percent of total US residents, but more than 10 percent of all motorcycle crash fatalities happen here.
Many are quick to blame the bikers:
- Myth: It’s their own fault; they don’t wear helmets.
- Reality: 19 other states have helmet laws comparable to Florida’s. Only 14 percent of Florida cyclists choose not to wear helmets.
- Myth: Motorcyclists drive recklessly and cause accidents.
- Reality: According to research by the Florida Department of Transportation, most motorcycle-involved accidents are caused by the drivers of larger vehicles. Whether the drivers do not yield the right of way, are driving while texting or intoxicated, or simply do not see bikers, car and truck drivers are most often the “culprits.”
Drivers and passengers of cars and trucks stand a 20 percent chance of being injured or dying when involved in an accident. For bikers, this risk soars to 80 percent. According to some estimates, riding a motorcycle is 26 times more deadly than driving or riding in a car.
You get it: it’s dangerous. Even if you practice impeccable motorcycle safety, you cannot control the actions of other drivers. What you can do is take steps to protect yourself. Insurance is step 1. What’s next?
Whose Fault Is It Anyway?
Despite following all the motorcycle safety best practices, accidents happen. When you are involved in an accident with another vehicle, it is essential that you document the scene (by taking pictures, gathering witnesses’ names / contact info, etc.) so you can prove your case. But what if you are in a “no contact accident”?
Let’s back up. What is a no contact accident? Say you are riding and a car swerves into your lane, cutting you off. You have two choices: collide with a much larger, much heavier vehicle – or lay your bike down / crash to avoid an even more hazardous situation.
Nationwide, nearly half of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve just the bike (that is, they are considered “single vehicle accidents”). Now, this does not mean that the motorcyclist is at fault in all these cases. You could have been reacting to situations in an attempt to avoid a more dangerous collision.
How do you prove that the accident was caused by another driver?
You must prove that the other party did not use “reasonable care” while operating their vehicle. To do so:
- Keep calm. This is essential – and difficult. A cool head will help you take the next critical steps. Don’t interact or argue with the other driver. Don’t blame, threaten, or yell.
- Call for help. Even if you do not feel badly hurt, seek medical assistance at the scene. You may be suffering from internal bleeding or organ damage that is not readily apparent in the aftermath of a crash. Also call law enforcement to report the accident.
- Gather evidence. If you are critically injured, stay put. You don’t want to risk your health. That said, if you are able, take photos of the scene. Try to capture the position of your bike and other vehicles, traffic signs, and skid marks.
- Find witnesses. If people saw the accident, politely request their names and contact information. If they are willing, ask them to describe what they saw. You cannot compel them to talk to you, so remember to keep calm and interact with respect.
- Do not admit fault or apologize. This can be an automatic reaction. Understandable – but remember that insurance companies are looking for reasons to reduce / deny claims. Any admission of fault or wrongdoing can harm your chances of receiving just compensation.
- Contact a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. As mentioned, it can be helpful to do so even before contacting your insurance company. An experienced Florida motorcycle accident lawyer can review the evidence you gathered, as well as your account of the incident, and assist you in taking the next steps. If the other party was negligent (that is, they did not exercise “reasonable care”), your attorney will build a strong case that ensures your rights are protected.
Did you know that the estimated cost of a fatal motorcycle accident is about $1.5 million? Emergency services, medical expenses, legal and court costs, workplace losses, property damage … they add up to unbearable financial burden. If a loved one has been killed, a personal injury attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents can help you begin to recover financially.
If you have been injured in a crash, do not assume it is your fault. Do not assume that you will be left holding the bag for mounting bills and expenses. Do you assume that you are powerless to fight back. The LaBovick Law Group is your advocate in the complex legal process. We will ensure your rights are protected.
For bikers, motorcycle safety is always the top priority. When you’ve been involved in an accident, you must also make sure your physical and financial well being are safeguarded. Our experienced team is here to help.